St. Louis Cardinals at Pittsburgh Pirates (+107, 7.5)
Pirates lead series 2-1.
Having already put an end to a 21-year postseason drought, the Pittsburgh Pirates are on the brink of winning their first playoff series in 34 years. The Pirates will look for the clincher when they host the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 4 of the National League Division Series on Monday afternoon. Pittsburgh took a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five series with a dramatic 5-3 victory in Sunday's Game 3, improving to 8-3 at home this season against the Cardinals.
St. Louis is pinning its hopes on 22-year-old rookie right-hander Michael Wacha to keep its season alive and force a winner-take-all Game 5 in St. Louis on Wednesday. The Pirates will counter with Charlie Morton, who has lost six consecutive decisions to the Cardinals and has not beaten them since April 4, 2011. Carlos Beltran has two homers and six RBIs in the series for St. Louis while Pedro Alvarez has two blasts and four RBIs for Pittsburgh.
TV: 3:07 p.m. ET, TBS
WEATHER: Temperatures will be in the mid-50s. Wind will blow out to left field at 15 mph.
PITCHING MATCHUP: Cardinals RH Michael Wacha (4-1, 2.78 ERA) vs. Pirates RH Charlie Morton (7-4, 3.26)
Wacha forced his way into the playoff rotation with a stellar final month, not allowing a run in three of five outings in September and coming within one out of a no-hitter in his last start. He allowed only an infield single with out outs in the ninth and struck out a season-high nine to beat Washington on Sept. 24. Wacha also pitched seven scoreless innings of two-hit ball versus the Pirates on Sept. 8.
Morton has never had much success against the Cardinals and that continued this season with an 0-2 record, 7.90 ERA and .397 batting average against in three starts. That included a disastrous outing against Wacha last month in which he allowed five runs in a season-low 1 2/3 innings before leaving with a foot injury. Morton was a much better pitcher at home, logging a 2-2 record and 2.85 ERA in nine starts.
* Over is 3-0-1 in Morton's last four starts vs. Cardinals.
* Cardinals are 5-1 in the last six meetings.
* Cardinals are 0-5 in their last five during Game 4 of a series.
* Pirates are 7-1 in their last eight games as an underdog.
1. Pittsburgh trade-deadline acquisition Marlon Byrd has five RBIs in four postseason games, including the wild-card win over Cincinnati.
2. CF Jon Jay (8-for-16), C Yadier Molina (8-for-19) and Beltran (6-for-15) are all batting .400 or better versus Morton.
3. Beltran hit his 16th postseason homer Sunday, surpassing Babe Ruth for eighth place on the career list.
Atlanta Braves at Los Angeles Dodgers (-147, 7.5)
Dodgers leads series 2-1.
Clayton Kershaw and the Los Angeles Dodgers attempt to finish off Atlanta and advance to the National League Championship Series when they host the Braves in Monday’s Game 4 of the Division Series. The Dodgers matched the franchise record for runs scored in a postseason game while drubbing Atlanta 13-6 in Sunday’s Game 3 to take a 2-1 series lead. Los Angeles announced on Monday afternoon that it was starting Game 1 winner Kershaw over struggling Ricky Nolasco.
Dodgers shortstop Hanley Ramirez continued his assault on Braves pitchers by going 3-for-4 with two RBIs in Game 3 and has six extra-base hits in the series. Ramirez is 7-for-13 with six RBIs in the three games while outfielder Yasiel Puig is 6-for-13 with four runs scored and first baseman Adrian Gonzalez is 5-for-14 with four RBIs. The Braves had just one run and three hits in seven innings off Kershaw in Game 1 when the likely National League Cy Young winner posted 12 strikeouts for his first career victory over Atlanta.
TV: 9:37 p.m. ET, TBS
WEATHER: Temperatures in low 70s with clear skies and winds blowing SW at 5 mph.
PITCHING MATCHUP: Braves RH Freddy Garcia (1-2, 1.65 ERA) vs. Dodgers LH Clayton Kershaw (16-9, 1.83)
An injury to Paul Maholm has led to the journeyman getting the call in an elimination game. Garcia was discarded by San Diego and Baltimore this season before landing with the Braves and he gave up four runs in 19 2/3 innings in three September starts. He is 1-1 with a 2.89 ERA in four career starts against the Dodgers.
Kershaw is pitching on three days’ rest for the first time in his career after tossing 124 pitches in the opener. The club originally planned to start Nolasco – who allowed 17 earned runs in 12 innings over his last three starts – before announcing the change about six hours before game time. Kershaw led the majors in ERA and WHIP (0.92) and had an NL-leading 232 strikeouts.
* Over is 4-0 in the last four meetings.
* Under is 5-2 in the last seven meetings in Los Angeles.
* Under is 23-11-3 in Dodgers' last 37 home games.
* Over is 11-3 in Braves' last 14 Divisional Playoff games.
1. Ramirez joined Jim Edmonds as the only players with six extra-base hits in their first three postseason games and he also tied Steve Garvey’s franchise record from the 1978 NLCS.
2. Braves OF Justin Upton was hitless in four at-bats against Kershaw in the opener to drop his career mark against the left-hander to 3-for-33 with 10 strikeouts.
3. LF Carl Crawford hit a three-run homer and 3B Juan Uribe hit a two-run blast in Sunday’s game as the Dodgers matched the franchise postseason record for runs set in Game 2 of the 1956 World Series – while the organization was located in Brooklyn.